Udonis Haslem speaks out on his haters, says his final game in Miami Heat uniform was ‘personal’

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After 20 seasons, Miami Heat big man Udonis Haslem’s NBA career is finally coming to an end, as he played his final regular season game on Sunday against the Orlando Magic.

Afterward, he spoke about how it felt.

“I’m going to be honest, it’s a little personal,” said Haslem. “I get a lot of flak for not playing and sitting on the bench, so I think a lot of people think I just drink coffee around here and don’t do nothing, so it was a little personal. I wanted to go out and put on a good showing. So many people supported me over the years, sacrificed for me, and this is for them. This is their day just as much as it is mine. This love affair that I’ve had with this organization, this city for 20 years, it’s going to continue to grow.”

Haslem was originally an undrafted player when he came out of the University of Florida in 2002. He is a native of Miami, and after playing one year of pro basketball in France, he made his NBA debut with the Heat during the 2003-04 season.

He has been with the team ever since, which has allowed him to experience a young Heat squad reach the second round of the playoffs in 2004, a more experienced team win the NBA championship two years later and the quick rebuilding process that immediately followed.

During those years, Haslem was a regular starter who contributed by grabbing rebounds and hitting perimeter shots.

By the time LeBron James arrived in 2010, he had become a reserve, but he still played a key role as Miami went to the NBA Finals four straight years and captured back-to-back Larry O’Brien trophies.

Over the last several seasons, as the Heat have transitioned from Dwyane Wade’s final days to the Jimmy Butler era, Haslem has barely played, but he has been a very important leader off the bench and in the locker room, not to mention an unofficial assistant coach under head coach Erik Spoelstra.

They ended the regular season with a 123-110 win over the Magic, and Haslem turned back the clock by getting 25 minutes and hitting 9-of-17 shots, including 3-of-7 from 3-point range, to score 24 points.

The win gave them a 44-38 record on the season and the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference. They will take part in the play-in tournament with a contest against Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks.

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Robert is a native of Santa Monica, Calif. and a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has been an avid NBA fan since he was a little kid in the mid '90s, and during that time he has lived through the Alonzo Mourning, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James era of Heat basketball. He feels strongly that the NBA and sports aren't just entertainment, but also a means for learning life lessons.